Friday, July 31, 2009

No, the other Sanchez

Remember him? No-hitter guy? Ring a bell?

Yeah, it is easy to be overlooked on this pitching staff, with Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum doing their Cy Young pas de deux, but Young Jonathan showed again why he's The Southpaw To Be Taken Seriously. I know, I know, he did one of those loopy-lefty things in the 6th, flinging fastballs to the backstop in seeming disregard for ordinary strike zone protocols, and Ol' Boch had to send him to his corner. But this is the Phils we are talking about, the defending champs, with more offensive firepower than an armored cavalry troop. JSanchez (there you have it, mates, JSanchez and FSanchez are the editor-approved monikers) struck out 7, including 1 apiece for Rollins, Utley, Werth and Howard, the first four hitters! Eugenio Velez reminds me of an ancient Giant--Derrel Thomas--who was a Johnny-on-the-spot type for some really bad mid-70s teams. Willie McCovey was on the radio with Dave Flemming for the 50th anniversary of his debut, and he said that Pablo Sandoval was his "favorite player." Did we need any more reason to love this kid? And a Splash Hit to boot!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Matt Cain is great!

9 3 0 0 2 4
Game Score 83

Another (ho-hum) brilliant performance by The Tennessee Stud. The Cain Train just keeps rolling, too bad he didn't get win #13. The Giants needed a sweep and they got it, thanks to Big Sugar doing his thing. The pitching was damn impressive against the Pirates--the Phillies will be much tougher.

I figure Randy Johnson is done. Rotator cuff? Age 45? Fuhgettaboutit. I'll give him his due, he might be the greatest left-handed pitcher ever. So, who's going to take his spot?

Tim Alderson is too much to give up for Freddy Sanchez. Marc Hulet at FanGraphs slices and dices. Grant at McChronic also sums it up nicely. Are they going to DFA Aurilia?

Read all about it

Chris at Bay City Ball has it covered.

Tim Alderson is too much to give up for Freddy Sanchez.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ephemeral Tim

If you are not completely enthralled, excited, enchanted and, yes, exhausted, then you are probably a zombie. Or maybe a vampire; hell, those things are everywhere. But more likely, you just missed last night's game. If you did...I hope you had a very good reason.

In one of the most entertaining games in recent memory, Tim Lincecum was once again masterful. This COMPLETE GAME gem included a career high 15 STRIKEOUTS. That is only the third time in my life that a Giant has done that. Tim was lightly touched for 4 hits, 3 walks and NO EARNED RUNS. Eighty of his 115 pitches were strikes as he maintained control of the game throughout. A couple innings were so sweet they literally brought a tear to my eye. In the 4th he used 8 pitches, all strikes to devastate the middle of their order and then in the 8th (after a tough 7th and 100 pitches) Tim sealed the deal with six pitches and three easy outs. Of course, in classic Freak fashion, his last inning was 9 pitches with K's number 14 and 15...not too shabby either. I really can't remember living through this type of pitching before...DON'T pinch me, if it's a dream, I'm OK with that.

On top of a pitching performance for the ages, this game also featured some jaw dropping action. The announcers had a good time last night. The craziest part was the bottom of the second: new arrivals Jesus Guzman (yeah!!) and Eugenio Velez (meh) started it with singles, then Uribe loaded them when Jesus drew a throw (heady play). So Tim was up with the bases loaded, no outs. One pitch later, Tim is at first, Uribe on second and TWO outs. Bang - a touch-third-tag-home double play- something you don't see too often. Now it takes a CLUTCH hit by Torres ( I'm thrilled he's going to get a chance with Gomer sidelined) and BANG - a 2 RBI triple! What's more exciting than that? Well, the next play kind of over shadowed everything else that just happened, as hard as that is to believe. Check it out if you didn't see it yet. Hard to understand how none of the umps saw that....their loss and our gain. Man, I'm a little tired just reliving that...don't worry, it's a good tired.

Last night was truly great example of why we all love this game. Our superstar for the new age led us to victory with panache and dominance. I'm still feeling the goosebumps thinking about it.

Man, I need a cold shower...because it's hot outside!!! What did you think??
(This post is dedicated to and inspired in part by Amy W, thanks for dancing and visiting!)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Garko joins Guzman

Giants get Garko.

He's sporting a .361 wOBA, 2nd best on our club.

He played at Stanford, so there's a local connection. I'm glad we got a right-hander and the youngest guy on the list. We gave up a 21-yr. old lefty, single-A pitcher Scott Barnes.

It appears we improved our club without giving up too much. Baseball America rated Barnes our 9th-best prospect, just ahead of Sergio Romo. I can live with it.

Go, Tim! Win tonight!

UPDATE: Super-smart stat-guy Dave Cameron (FanGraphs) is "meh" on our end, thinks Barnes was too high a price to pay.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

As Giants cool, trade talk heats up

Henry Schulman's Beaten Giants talking trade says a deal is "50-50". The Indians have supposedly scouted us and we have supposedly scouted Victor Martinez and Ryan Garko. Freddy Sanchez and Nick Johnson warrant a mention as "oft-mentioned," and we are not to discount Marco Scutaro or Aubrey Huff. Jesus Guzman gets his name in print alongside "hot" and "could get another look." That sounds like plan I can get behind.

Victor Martinez sports a career .832 OPS (118 OPS+). He's 30.
Ryan Garko is 28. His career OPS is .806 (109 OPS+).
Freddy Sanchez is 31 and his career OPS is .758 (99 OPS+).
Nick Johnson is good for an .820 OPS (120 OPS+) and is 30.
Marco Scutaro is 33. His career OPS is .720 (91 OPS+)
Aubrey Huff's career OPS is .819 (114 OPS+) at age 32.

At least we have some names. The question, of course, is "what are those names worth?" Who are you willing to give up to get one of those guys in our lineup? I'm intrigued by Martinez, but in terms of WAR, he's in Matt Cain country, and we aren't going to do that. He's a middle-of-the-order bat, and a catcher. What would you ask in return? Cleveland is 12 games back--they are sellers at this point. Martinez is a free agent this year with club option for 2010. Nick Johnson might be the best bet, and the most affordable at 1.5 WAR. He might be had for Jonathan Sanchez and change. He's a free agent at the end of this season, though. Ryan Garko may be the most realistic--he's younger and cheaper and would be under control longer. Sanchez, Huff and Scutaro don't pique my interest, but I could listen to a good counter-argument.

So--do we go after one or more of these guys?

UPDATE: I spent some time with wOBA (explained here and here). Victor Martinez and Ryan Garko come in a .361, better than everyone on the Giants except Pablo Sandoval (.390). Nick Johnson is .366. The next best Giant is Aaron Rowand at .340. Take a look at the leaderboards for perspective. There are 15 guys below .300 wOBA (bad, very bad)--two of them are Giants (Molina and Renteria). You could make a case that Edgar Renteria is the worst full-time player in baseball.

Have You Caught Wild Card Fever Yet?

The Giants and the Rockies go toe to toe this weekend in a tense battle to decide the NL wild card leadership. In July. With two months left in the season.
I'm glad we're in some kind of race for something and I hope we end up the year with a better record than the Rockies. Winning is more fun than losing.
Jonathan Sanchez returned to his standard so-so level yesterday and Troy Tulowitsky had a big game so we lost. Pablo Sandoval seems to be heating up again and Nate Scheirholtz made another great throw from right field to get an out at second.
Can you tell I haven't had my morning cup of coffee yet?
So who do you wanna trade today? I know, let's trade guys who suck for guys who don't.
How about that Rickey Henderson? Wasn't he a swell ballplayer? Though I gotta say I hated that thing of pulling second base up out of the ground and carrying it away. Then you have to stop the game and put in a new second base. That was stupid.

Friday, July 24, 2009

And the race is on

7 3 1 1 4 5
Game Score 68

I was surprised when Ol' Boch left Matt Cain in to hit for himself in the top of the 7th after a tortuous 6th, a pitch count over 100, and a Righetti Visit of Doom. Big Sugar then dominated the 6-7-8 hitters (Tulowitzki-Stewart-Iannetta) in the bottom of the 7th, and walked away with another outstanding start, his 10th of 7 IP or more this season. Ol' Boch showed some Veteran Savvy Clutchness of his own, giving Fred Lewis another start, and the Mississippian responds with a single, double, triple, walk, and two runs scored. He wasn't done: he shrewdly yanked Lewis for defensive purposes, switched Winn to LF, and Andres Torres made a big play in CF in the 9th to get a badly-needed out. Damn! Ol' Boch was working the 8-3/4 beastie tonight. Got to give credit where it's due. And credit the Tennessee Stud with shining in perhaps his most important start of the season. Colorado is a tough place to pitch even with the humidor and the newer, supposedly slower lawngrass, and that's a patient, talented lineup to boot. It's a playoff race, add in our road woes and general offensive ineptitude, and this was a big, big start. The 12 wins ties Cain for the ML lead. A nod to Lights-out Affeldt for continuing his incredible run--he got 3 groundouts on 11 pitches in a perfect 8th. Another nod to Olympic Nate for muscling up and getting a big HR (and continuing to show off his arm in RF). Still another nod to the Kung-fu Panda for two sparkling plays in the field. It's a team game, lads, ain't it? Wilson scared the crap out of us in the 9th, but in the end we had a very satisfying win. Way to go, Matt Cain, and way to go, Giants!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Da Beezy is Da Man!

Baseball serves as a good model for democracy in action: Every player is equally important and each has a chance to be a hero.

--Edward Abbey (emphasis mine)

Today number 75--the Billion Dollar Boy--played stopper and we got a win we so desperately needed. He racked up a Game Score of 68, his 5th best of the year. Considering the circumstances, it was a hell of a performance. Nice to see Mississippi Fred contribute positively--walk, run, hit, rbi, sb--as well. Olympic Nate continues to come up big with the glove.

We saw the formula today. The pitching has to be good, and the hitters have to take advantage of their opportunities. We are an unbalanced squad, obviously. We lack firepower, and that was brought home again painfully this week. Nonetheless we head to Denver a game behind the Crockies with Matt Cain going first. We have to stick to our strengths and play our game. It's an agonizing sort of baseball, with a drip-by-drip water-torture approach to scoring runs, and it only works when the pitching keeps it close and the guys catch the ball and make the plays. It has been 95 games of almost .540 ball (an 88-win pace) with this flawed, improbable team, and, the highs and lows are only going to get higher and lower in the next two months. Strap in and hang on, it is going to be a hell of a ride.

Bested Tim

Even great teams have slumps to survive and roadtrips to endure. We are clearly in the midst of one such time period. As we all know, the key to these events is how quickly you recover. Likewise, we all know that Tim Lincecum will probably be the one to lead us out of the quagmire. Well, it ain't happenin' yet.

Tim picked up his third loss in a suspenseless game that was over by the 3rd inning. The death blow was a three run homer (first one given up this year!) by a right handed hitter (also first!). In his shortest outing since opening day, Lincecum lasted five innings, giving up seven hits and two walks. The nine strikeouts are cool but just stat padders. I suppose anytime Tim doesn't get a quality start it is news.

Obviously this loss, like the vast majority of them, can be blamed on the offense. It is hard to believe that this offense can get worse but that's what's going on. Look for Renteria to start his disappearance; I bet money "injuries" appear and he won't be in many of our second half games. Rowand will also hit the DL soon with an "injury" related to not driving in a run for a month. I have little doubt that Pablo will rebound, but I don't expect anything from Nate, Fred, Matt, John, and the ever popular "fill-in-the-blank". Where do you guys think our second half "O" comes from? My imagination is stumped.

All we can do now is hold our breath and see what the boys are made of. The true test is when we get home; if we keep losing there then we know it's time to relax.

And, by relax, I mean

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Chasin' the Crockies

Colorado is pounding out a .782 team OPS, just behind Philadelphia for 2nd place in the NL--no surprise there. What's working for them is pitching: they are 8th in the league in runs allowed and 9th in ERA. FanGraphs (required reading for RMCers) will sort teams by FIP. Guess who is number one? The Atlanta Braves at 3.66. The Giants are 2nd at 3.77, LA 3rd at 3.87, and the Crockies in 4th place at 3.92. The 5th place Cardinals are the only other team under 4.00 in the NL. If you check team (pitching) WAR, the Rockies and Braves are 1-2 (Giants 3rd). We are currently getting our butts kicked by a good ballclub. And we will be facing another good ballclub right after that. Good thing we have The Franchise throwing tonight--we need a win. Don't overlook Jair Jurrjens, the Braves starter. He's a fine young player, just 23, and his FIP and ERA are in Matt Cain territory.

I sure liked it better when the Crockies were looking up at us.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bullpen meltdown

It was bound to happen. Sergio Romo has under 50 IP of MLB experience, and I imagine we will get some rocky outings now and again. 18 hits in 13 innings is a little scary, but he also has 17 strikeouts. Reminds me of a certain young, mercurial starting pitcher--just keep saying "upside" over and over again.

I want to throw out a trade name. We could use help at 1B, 2B, SS and the OF. If we had real hitters there instead of below-average production, we would likely win more games. What if Milwaukee wanted to part with Ryan Braun? I don't know if they want to, but they might, and I'm going to imagine they need pitching in return. According to FanGraphs, Braun is worth 3.2 WAR already this season. That's about where they have Pablo Sandoval ranked. Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain are rated at 5.5 and 2.1 respectively. Jonathan Sanchez comes in at 1.0. Braun would be a good fit in LF, and would give our lineup one hell of a bat. If I'm Milwaukee's GM, I'd want equivalent value (or at least potential value) in return. Do we dangle Sanchez, Valdez and Alderson and see if they'll bite? Would you, if you were in Milwaukee? Are the Giants that close? Would one big hitter push us over the top?

Here's a little backgorund on WAR. It is the 21st century, buckos, we can't talk about baseball without some sabermetrics. Get used to it.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Steppin' up

7 5 1 1 2 8
Game Score 69
WIN #11

The Cain Train just keeps on rolling. That's the NINTH time this season he's racked up at least 7 IP. Tim Lincecum, for comparison, has THIRTEEN such starts, but we all know that Tim Lincecum is the best in the league. After two good starts and two losses, the team stepped up today to get a big win. M.C. led the way, looking a little wild in the 1st but then getting the big K's. In the 4th, Olympic Nate made a great play to throw out Ryan Doumit at second base and, as it turned out, save a run. Otherwise, The Tennessee Stud was cracking 95-mph four-seamers and popping 79-mph hooks, subduing a feisty Pirates lineup with the grit and patience of a grizzled vet. I liked that he mixed in his slider and used the change-up effectively to get 8 K's and 9 ground balls. In short, it was just what the doctor ordered. The Lineup of The Walking Dead we saw yesterday and the day before came to life with a spirited Fiesta de los Dobles in the 6th to give us the winning margin. Sergio Romo made us all question our orientations with a rocky 8th, but "Lights-out" Affeldt came through again. Wilson, for once, gave us a ho-hum 9th, and we got out of Pittsburgh with a win.

Two items of note:

R.I.P. Sue Burns, a true Giant. By all accounts she and her late husband Harmon were passionate and devoted owners--fans, lovers of the game, friends to all who were part of the team. They will be missed. Let us hope the bean-counters, nickel-squeezers, and marketing analysts learned something from them about the joy of baseball, and about the hopes and dreams of all of us who follow the team. Corny, I know, but I doubt if Mrs. Burns would argue with the sentiment.

Jason Schmidt will pitch for the LAtriners tomorrow in Cincinnati.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Not good

No. 75 throws a fine game and we get shut out, managing only five hits. That hurts! And the fookin' Crockies win in SD, giving them a 49-41 record, just like us. My worst nightmare about the 2nd half of the season is playing itself out in the first two games. I'm glad there are 72 more, you know, because this road trip is seriously freaking me out. Matt Cain gets a shot to stop the three-game losing streak tomorrow afternoon, and then we face the hungry, under-performing Atlanta Braves. We miss Javier Vasquez, but have to face crafty vet Derek Lowe and emerging stud Jair Jurrjens. Then it is on to Colorado for what is looking more and more like a crucial showdown with a division rival. We've scored ONE RUN in 23 innings. That's got to change, lads.

Battling Tim

"Hope everybody likes pitcher's duels."

These were the last cyber-words off my fingertips. I may just keep them in my clipboard for easy pasting. Yesterday's edition featured our own Ace Tim Lincecum against....well, does it really matter, our offense can turn anybody into Koufax-for-a-day. The duel, which felt more like a crusade, ended poorly, 2-1 after 14 innings. Let's look over the battle field, shall we?

The Franchise was once again effective but failed to get a decision. Tim used 118 pitches to complete 7 innings while yielding a solo HR, a double, 3 singles, and one walk. Throw in 10 strikeouts and it definitely deserves a win. The bullpen added some incredibly smooth work ( until the lightning bolt ending ) so they actually survived well, considering. Howry may need to be locked away for awhile, though.

The outlook on the other side of the squad is much more bleak. From the looks of things Aurilla and Renteria are definitely casualties. RIP dudes, it's time to dig the graves . The Gomer took a hard blow with an OH-FOR-SIX!! and many fear this could signal the end of a good run for him. As a team we mustered a double and 6 singles, 0-6 with RISP, 2 walks and 15 punchouts, ALL IN 14 INNINGS; that's gettin' your butt whupped. No big surprise, really. However, given the timing ( now that we are contenders, chuckle ) this type of showing could cause us to pull off some desperate for a hitter trade. The deadline looms and our mortal enemies are showing signs of weakening. I fear the temptation will be too great for Sabes to resist; one last redeeming transaction, for the team and for a new contract.

In the end, just another lost battle in a long war. No new weakness exposed. In other words,

photo credit

ps. Sorry for all the military imagery...I'm really a hippie at heart. Here's a peace offering - this is the best bit of Giants writing I have read lately. This guy is a good writer.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The 2nd half

88 down, 74 to go. Divide 74 by 5 and you get 15 more starts for Tim and 15 more starts for Matt. That's 44 starts for the other guys. Matt and Tim are a combined 20-4 in 36 starts. They've racked up 244-2/3 IP, yielding 199 hits, 80 walks, and 60 runs. Our lefties have amassed 276-1/3 IP, yielding 267 hits, 121 walks, and 154 runs. It is not surprising that they are a combined 16-23! Is anyone else concerned about our left-handed starters?

Imagine the Giants sustain the .557 ball they are playing right now. They'd go 41-33 and finish with 90 wins. They'd probably get the Wild Card with that record. If the Giants play .500 ball, a 37-37 record would see them finish 86-76. Very respectable, well above expectations, but probably short of a playoff spot. If we falter and play sub-.500 ball we will likely get passed up by the Rockies and finish in 3rd place.

So far we've been lucky: we have been healthy. We have also gotten an unexpected lift from guys like Juan Uribe, who seems to have temporarily solved our 2B problem. Pablo Sandoval has emerged to give us a genuine bat, something we have lacked since Bonds was let go. He's currently running .964 OPS (150 OPS+), that's Adrian Gonzalez/Carlos Beltran country! Even ol' no. 33 in the leadoff spot has produced an .806 OPS so far, pretty close to his career mark, and above average (111 OPS+) for the league. That's a nice improvement from last year. He'll have to keep it up for our lineup to score the runs we need.

The mission for the 2009 San Francisco Giants is simple on the face: keep on doin' what you're doin'! We've all been fans for too long to know that that is not so simple. The season is a grind, a long war of attrition, and those August road trips and September nail-biters take a toll even on the strongest and deepest teams. This Giants team is something quite different than we are used to. It is a pitching team! In the long history of our beloved franchise, we have always been a hitting team, a slugging team. This is a new kind of ballclub for SF. Let's hope that's the difference in the 2nd half.

(n.b. David Pinto at Baseball Musings gives a thumbnail sketch of all the teams. Here's his take on the Giants.)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Semi-Stellar Tim

Tim Lincecum's first All-Star appearance was not exactly awe-inspiring. After two innings and 35 pitches, Tim had given up 2 runs (1 earned) on two hits. He may have been nervous because even though he got ahead 1-2 to the first two batters, he made TERRIBLE pitches: a high changeup that Ichiro singled and a ?? that hit Jeter. Ugly. However, Tim did what we have seen quite often. He bore down and made great pitches that should have gotten him out of the jam. Too bad great pitches aren't always enough. David Wright and Albert Pujols butchered up double play balls and Tim, himself, contributed some questionable defense. Luckily, Lincecum's battery mate, Molina ( the new improved clone of Bengie ) got him off the hook for the inevitable NL loss with a clutch hit. No doubt he would have settled in and sliced through them( he needed 13 pitches for a perfect second inning ) if he was given more time. Oh well, no damage done, but no real glory gained.

Did anyone else feel like the NL was playing like the Giants? Except, of course, we would not have made the errors. That game felt like alot of ours; fast, short, low scoring, few hits, good pitching, runs scored by outs rather than homers. I keep telling any body that will still listen that baseball is going into a new low scoring era and that the Giants are going to be standard bearers for this new age. I kind of feel vindicated after watching that game. Hope everybody likes pitcher's duels.

The Giants are the NL story

Yes, we are. Exceeding expectations and all that. Here's another take on our improbable season:

Great News, I Was Wrong by Steve Treder (in The Hardball Times)

The Freak Show tonight on Fox at 1700 PDT--don't miss it!

(Barry-O is throwin' out the first pitch.)

Sunday, July 12, 2009


49-39 at the Break is a damn fine accomplishment. Way to go, Giants! I love being wrong about this team. This season has been one hell of a lot of fun. You know what the ASB means, bhoyos, it means analysis. Good analysis, bad analysis, technical analysis, voodoo analysis, thoughtful analysis, half-assed analysis--I want it all, buckos. Gimme your best shot. Or your worst shot. Gimme some insight. Or some blarney. I don't bloody fookin' care, I just wanna wallow in the Giants to fill the time until the real games can start again.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

18 starts

for Matt Cain, and he's gone 6 innings or more in ALL of them except two: the rain-shortened 5 IP CG in Washington on June 4th, and tonight. That ain't half bad, y'know? Preliminary news is that M.C. is OK--just a flesh wound. We'll see. Good thing there's a break coming up. The 'pen needed some work, anyway. Oh, did I mention that we won? That Pablo Sandoval is a god?

It's true

All that stuff JC and Ron have been preaching about "pitching, pitching, pitching" is true. You can win without an offense. We don't have to look for proof--it is right in front of us. We've been muscling up lately, I note, heading toward my favorite Weaverism (pitching, fundamentals, 3-run HRs), and that gladdens my heart. Nonetheless our hitting remains frightfully suspect. It sure doesn't seem to matter with our pitchers, though. Hell, Sanchez was our worst guy not too long ago! I like that we've stood pat and not made any moves. This team has hugely outperformed my expectations and I'm ready to take this ride to wherever it goes. The Brian Trust has had the sense--so far--not too mess with the merchandise. Whether our success is by accident or design I no longer care, this season is just too much fun.

I've a special birthday party to attend this evening and will miss Matt's start and, of course, the game. Keep the zeroes going, Matt! Go Giants!

Friday, July 10, 2009


A Juan Uribe error away from perfection, Jonathan Sanchez throws the first no-hitter in PhoneCo history, and the first for a Giant since 1976. UNBELIEVABLE! Talk about making a pitch for a regular job. WOW!! What do you say to that?

UPDATE: Miller and Flemm talked to Sanchez after the game, and the young lefty talked about his "second chance." He made the most of it. Game Score 98.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

TENacious Tim

1. Tim's scoreless streak came to an end at 29 innings, but he pitched well enough to notch his tenth victory, 9-3 against the pudres.

2. 6.2 innings, of which the first 6 were NO HIT.

3. Eight strikeouts, 3 hits, 4 walks, 3 earned runs.

4. A terrible throw by Nate and a bases loaded walk by Romo definitely contributed to a run scored to Tim, but his ERA is 2.33 so I guess I won't whine too much.

5. Bowkermania on hold: looked really bad his first time up....3 pitches, sit down.

6. Uribe sure hit the ball hard a couple times. I doubt Frandsen will get much more time.

7. Its a shame that Pablo didn't get voted in. Isn't there a chance he will still get picked? Maybe somebody bows out?

8. Affeldt is a machine.

9. We have now won the first game of a home series 14 out of 16 times (I think).

10. Tim Lincecum's next start better be TUESDAY! Baseball deserves him. I say let him go 3 innings...then Matt can go two!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Two outta three ain't bad

Matt Cain was popping 95 mph on the stadium gun in the 6th inning on Monday night. Gameday says he peaked there at 94, but who's quibbling? It wasn't subtle, it was plain ol' country hardball. Big Sugar finally got Big X and I was there to see it. We sat in section 112, lower box: home plate at twelve o'clock behind the screen, the pitcher's mound at one o'clock in clear view. I got to see The Tennessee Stud up close and personal and I gots to say I loves me some Matt Cain. I loves me them big, tall, black socks and the squared up stance and the way he holds the glove in front of his face just like they showed you in little league. And I loves me that snap, crackle, and pop when M.C.'s cheese hits leather. I had a moment of rage at Ol' Boch for yanking him in the 7th with 2 outs, but the crew here at RMC knows that Jeremy Affeldt is the best pickup of the year, and he barely broke a sweat swatting the Piscine Nine around for a handful of outs. Wilson gave us a taste of old Nen in the 9th, but it hardly made a dent in the joyous tenor of the evening. PABLO SANDOVAL HIT A GRAND SLAM!!! If that doesn't put zinc in your dink you're dead already.

The next night we enjoyed the low-brow nuttiness of the LF bleachers, section 138, only two rows from the fence. Nothing compares to the alcoholic anarchy of the 'Stick's sunswept seats back in the day, but it was great to have a lively, full-throated bunch around. There were mellow families and dignified oldsters sprinkled in amongst the over-eager youth brigades, and the result was a great night of baseball viewing. BZ was at his best, snapping off 77 mph hooks and spotting a lively fastball on the outside corner, keeping the Fish at bay. He pitched into the 9th! We had a productive out festival in the 4th (Winn 2B, Pablo SF, Bengie SF-RBI) before Uribe's 2-run jack put it out of reach. Yeah, 3-0 was "out of reach" with Zito on the hill, can you believe it? Got to see Sergio do his funkified thang, 10 pitches and 2 Ks. We are all Romosexuals!

Despite the weak effort today, we had a great series. Miller and Flemm brought us the game on KNBR during the long drive home. Radio baseball is still the best way to chew up road miles. We had a lovely stay in Castle Granville with Lord Z & Lady A, soaking up the San Francisco scene. We got bridges, fog, steep hills, Anchor Steam, trolley rides**, and a full moon over Mt. Davidson. The Giants are the second-best team in the toughest division in the NL. Life's good, eh?

**The Muni highlight was Monday, when a drunk Canadian tourist, showing off for his girlfriend, hollered at the packed streetcar "tell me when we get to 2nd Street!!" We didn't have the heart to tell him he'd started his ride at the corner of 2nd and King, and he went on to moan "I need a pub!!" My sharp-eyed bride spotted Gordon Biersch in neoned yellow just across the way and hollered back, encouraging him to exit at the next stop. The rest of the train, seeing the wisdom of the advice, jumped on that with a collective cheer. They seemed happy to leave and we went on our merry post-game way.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

X Man At Last

6.2 5 2 1 2 5
What's a game score?

I can't testify to how gnarly he was last night, but by gawd Matt Cain got win number 10 and he got it despite the presence of M.C. O'Connor at the ballpark. It must have been sweet, M.C., I'm happy for you.
The big thrill must have been seeing Pablo Sandoval hit his first grand slam. Pablo passed Molina as the team RBI leader, and is currently leading in the vote to get the last spot on the All Star team.
Brian Wilson came up with one of his patented 9th inning dramas. They drive me crazy. At least he didn't blow it this time.

A Constellation of Giants

6.2 5 2 1 2 5
Game Score 61

Three Giants proved they were All-Stars last night during a thrilling 5-4 victory over the visiting Marlins:

#1 Pablo Sandoval : If you have not voted for him twenty times today , go here and do it right now. That prick from Philly went 4-5 ( in a 22-1 win!) so Pablo needs every vote he can get. With Pablo's flair for the dramatic, I can only imagine what he would do on such a national stage.

#2 Matt Cain : Although he didn't have the good curve, Matt's working man fastball was enough to contain the fish and pick up a spectacular TENTH WIN. I love it when Matt just hauls back and brings it. That is when he truly seems built for the ballpark; last night he gave up nine flyouts. It wasn't a flashy performance, of which Matt is more than capable, but it did show why Mr. Cain will be an All-Star many times in his career.

#3 Jeremy Affeldt : In a rather quiet manner, Affeldt is putting together one of the finer set-up seasons we have seen in years. Last night he added 1.1 more scoreless innings onto his lovely streak of 20.1. That is quality. Every contending Giants team I lived through had great relief pitchers; Affeldt is looking like one of them.

Put these guys in with the supernova they call Lincecum and you have yourself some star power. All I can say is:


Monday, July 6, 2009


The wonderful first half of the season came to a close on a bit of a sour note yesterday: a loss and injury to Randy Johnson. Losing is not such a big deal; after all Roy Oswalt is damn good. We won the series and that is clearly this team's focus.

But what about losing The Big Eunuch? Again, no big deal. He is scheduled to pitch once in the next two weeks due to the All-Star break. The timing is perfect for him to take a break anyway. Another benefit could be giving Sanchez a spot to return to since Sadowski sure isn't ready to leave yet. I think Joe Martinez is available to return as well. So you see, assuming this is a mild strain, this injury could actually prove to be helpful: Johnson needs a break and Sanchez/Sadowski/Martinez? need more exposure.

What will happen next? Put Johnson on DL? Call someone up? You be the GM !!!

(MC O'Connor is at the game tonight! He'll be the one throwing his panties at Matt Cain. MOC will be back posting in a couple days. Good luck, dude.)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Contentious Tim

HAPPY TIM-dependence DAY!!!
Tim Lincecum has made us a CONTENDER.

There I said it. Some will scoff, some will agree. Many will say it is too soon. And guess what...we are all right. I actually don't care very much...not yet anyway. I have little doubt that the next few years look bright indeed. This year is pure gravy. All I know is that the San Francisco Giants look unbeatable with Tim on the mound.

Sporting hideous red caps, the Giants continued their remarkable abuse of the Houston Astros with another lopsided shutout, 9-0. The Franchise added seven more innings to his consecutive scoreless streak of 23! ( Last year the best he did was 16. ) Getting very close to Nenn's record of 25+. Timmy struckout nine while walking two. He gave up a double among the 3 hits, continuing to destroy slugging % around the league. This is another pretty good hitting team too. Tim also continued a current trend of impacting the game off the mound as well, this time with two walks leading to 2 runs scored. Jeebus this kid can play!

What more can be said? As Giants fans we know when a player has gone to a new level, Barry showed us that. And we all know how fleeting it can be. Almost like a wonderful fireworks show. Be sure to enjoy what Tim is giving us. Wake up the kids, call the neighbors.
Even if we aren't contenders, we are worth watching!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

A Big Feel-Good Win

I'm not a stats guy but even I can figure out Sadowsky's ERA so far. Zero, zip, zilch. Nada, goose eggs. Six scoreless innings the first time and seven last night. What's not to like?
And the offense seems to get happy with him on the mound. He's already gotten as much run support in two games as Zito's gotten all year. (Probably not, but I told you I'm not a stats guy.)
Once again the displaced Jonathan Sanchez comes in to finish the game for the guy who took his place in the rotation. No save chances when the Big Sadowsky takes the hill. Nothing but blowouts.
Isn't it great to see Sandoval announce his presence with authority? He's a genuine power threat now. You can see him improve all the time. How good can he get?

Friday, July 3, 2009

Cy Then And Cy Now

As all Giants fans know, way back in 1967 some fellow named Mike McCormick won the Cy Young award, the only SF Giant to do so until last year, when Lincecum earned that honor.
McCormick was a pretty good pitcher. He was one of those over-hyped teen phenoms, making his ML debut in September of '56 at the age of 17. His career lasted through '71 and he compiled 134 wins and 128 losses.
Things just fell his way in '67. It was the first year the Cy Young was split two ways, one for each league. Sandy Koufax had just retired, having won 3 out of the last 4 awards. Bob Gibson had an off year at 13-7, the only time he had fewer than 20 wins between '65 and '70. Teammates Marichal and Perry were both sub-par also, at 14-10 and 15-17 respectively.

In 1967 McCormick was 22-10 with an ERA of 2.85.
The Giants went 91-71 and , of course, finished second.

Jim Lonborg of the Red Sox won the AL Cy Young with a record of 22-9 and an ERA of 3.16.

Lincecum just won the pitcher of the month award and may be on his way to a second consecutive Cy Young. That would establish him as probably the best pitcher on the planet, something which could never have been said about Mike McCormick.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Road trip split

Splitting with the Cardinals is not too shabby, despite getting beaten today. Zito was Zito and we only managed two late runs with our 9 hits. A .500 road trip is not bad, really, not bad at all. When you think about how poorly we played on the road earlier in the season that is a big improvement. Sure, the road trip started in Oakland and we took 2 of 3, but I'm willing to cut us some slack because of the two huge wins in St. Louis. I'm cutting the digital connection for the next several days, you guys will have to pick up the slack. Monday and Tuesday we will be at the Park for real-live baseball!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

No-decision land

7 6 1 1 3 3
Game Score 61

Fred Lewis pinch-hit for Matt Cain to lead off the 8th, worked the count, and roped a single. It was the best plate appearance of the evening for the G-men. Wainwright had us completely mastered until that point. We had a shot (bases loaded, Sandoval batting) to take the lead, but had to settle for the tie. That's the fifth no-decision for Cain this year. Matt's 7 IP weren't pretty or efficient, but he's a GMF and whipped out his can of VSC when he needed it. The other guy was dominant, flashing the big strikeout stuff, working efficiently, and going the full nine, but suffered the same ND fate. Our fielding was a mess tonight, breaking a long run of solid defensive play. Pablo Sandoval dropped Cody Rasmus' foul pop fly right before the game-winning bomb. Romo, like Cain, was not at his best but still got the big outs. Affeldt was very impressive, again. We brought out our limp noodles tonight and Wainwright took advantage. Our pitching--the team strength--kept it close, of course, but it wasn't good enough. The whole show was like a World Cup soccer match, lots of feints and dodges and questionable officiating but only a handful of real shots on goal. Finally, after 90 minutes of pointless running around, and a spot of OT for good measure, the home team nailed the decider. Bleah.

Our guys 6, their guy 3

It takes a fookin' village, eh? The Great Old One got 16 outs including whiffing El Hombre in the first. Must have pissed him off, as Phat Albert spent the rest of the game vainly trying to beat us single-handedly. The old, non-hitting Giants would have collapsed like a bad soufflé, but this version, this new, big-hitting team brushed aside the 2-HR, 3-RBI onslaught like the President swats flies. We pounded the crap out of Chris Carpenter! That's no mean feat, buckos. We quickly reverted to form against their bullpen, but as Chris Q points out, there's some serious cheese in that crew. We've surged past the Padres (.694) for 15th place in team OPS (.702), but I like our trend line.* The bottom line is wins, and we are racking them up with far more frequency (55.3%) than I would have guessed. I liked the three DPs we turned, especially the one induced by Affeldt in the 6th. Who knew Juan Uribe would get the coveted "slick-fielding second-sacker" moniker? We haven't tossed that one around since the days of, I don't know, Manny Trillo and Duane Kuiper perhaps? Romo struggled with his control of all things, Righetti's Visit of Doom in the 8th was good-bad, as Sergio got the K and then gave up the double. Not all RVODs are alike, apparently. Wilson's 4-out save was his league-leading 6th of the "more than three outs variety," 21st overall if you are counting.

Jason Marquis beat Chad Billingsley last night to nab the NL X-prize. Matt Cain gets another shot tonight. If the rotation holds, I will get to see Matt Cain pitch in person on Monday!

*check out the trendy Giants showing rare power of late story!